Rory McIlroy is just 18 holes away from winning his fourth major, and third tournament on the spin, as he holds a one-shot lead going into the final round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
The Northern Irishman struggled to find his very best form on the third day of the season’s final major but finished strongly with three birdies in his final four holes – including one at the last – to post a round of 67 and hold the outright lead on 13-under-par.
That’s one better than Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who scythed through the field in the third round with a superb 65 to reach 12-under. Rickie Fowler is a further shot adrift, continuing his impressive form in the major championships this season, whilst Phil Mickelson and Jason Day are on ten-under.
Should McIlroy hold off all his rivals and seal victory today, it would mark the second time in three years that he has won the PGA Championship, following his win at Kiawah Island in 2012, and would see him become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win the Open and PGA back-to-back.
Man of the Round
Undoubtedly Wiesberger, above. The 28-year-old has missed the cuts in four of his previous five major appearances, so to bring a flawless to the party on ‘moving day’ and put himself in contention for the Wannamaker Trophy was simply sensational. Not bad going for a guy who, before this week, had never broken par in any round in a major.
Stats of the Day
Rory goes into the final round today holding the lead in a major for the 16th time since 2010. Nobody else has achieved that more than five times in the same span. (Via @JustinRayGC)
How easy did Valhalla play yesterday? The stroke average for round three was 69.57, as compared with 72.36 in the second round. The sixth hole played the hardest yesterday for the second day in a row, with the easiest being the fourth.
There was an average of 3.9 birdies per player yesterday. That’s compared with 3.1 in round one and 3.0 in round two.
Soundbites from round three
“It's not the biggest lead I've ever had, but I'm still in control of this golf tournament and it's a great position to be in going into tomorrow.” Rory McIlroy
“You can't hit it good every week of the year. I do a good job generally of playing well at big events. It's not going to happen every week for me.” Adam Scott
“I'm trying to get back on my feet right now. With all the frustrations, with injuries, withdrawing last week, it wasn't the greatest preparation coming to this event.” Jason Day
“My game feels so close to clicking. And when I say clicking, shooting really low. I just haven't quite put them all together on all 18 holes.” Phil Mickelson
Only 18 players failed to break par on day three. Furyk, who woke up on Saturday one shot off the lead and having carded only two bogeys in his first two rounds, was one of them. A one-over 73 saw him slip to seven-under and five shots adrift of McIlroy. Has a poor third round cost him yet another chance at major glory?
Things to look out for in the final round
Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are big friends who practice together a lot. They’re also out in the second last group chasing down McIlroy. Will their friendship and being comfortable with one another be the extra shot they need to rein in the Northern Irishman and steal victory from his clutches?
Watch out for American golfers giving it their all to get up the leaderboard, not just for a shot at glory or more dollars in their back pockets. The final round is their final chance to qualify automatically for the US Ryder Cup team.
And, of course, keep an eye out for Rory McIlroy trying to make it three wins on the spin and back-to-back majors. Can the world No.1 close out yet another lead?